"In everything give thanks..."
This weekend I attended my first thanksgiving of 2018. What was pretty cool about this one was that I wasn't invited by your typical sweet church auntie, but rather by a vibrant, fresh 20 year old. It was in celebration of her birthday and other recent achievements.
HMMM. Just the thought of one so young approaching the subject of giving thanks with such urgency was testimony in itself. Typical twenty-somethings might have opted for something like a night at the club, or would have at least made the day all about themselves by having a party somewhere. Yet she saw it fit to invite a few of her closest friends and supporters (both young and old) to recognize and celebrate God and His goodness in her life.
Another plot-twist was the fact that she asked me to lead worship; I mean, at camp I lead worship, but I know that there are better singers. I must say, after I got over the surprise of being asked, I did feel pretty....THANKFUL because I do like singing and worshiping God, even though sometimes my concern about being better at it gets in the way of me doing it more publicly.
Her uncle brought the message of the evening, and in it he spoke about the necessity of being in a consistent state of gratitude. He asked us to reflect on our lives and to think about how many times we tend to focus on negatives instead of all the really good things God was doing in our lives. His reference bible verse was
Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Interestingly, the thing that froze my thoughts solid was what he said next. "Notice that God tells us to be thankful IN every circumstance, not necessarily ABOUT every circumstance". I really had to ponder that one. It struck a chord with me because this weekend had been a trying one for me emotionally. I was finding it really hard to be in thankful mood ABOUT the things I was struggling with, but in that moment I realized that I could still find it in myself to thankful IN the circumstance. Obviously, for that to happen, my focus couldn't merely be on the circumstance, because it was genuinely rather crappy. Instead he made me realize in that simple statement, that I had to be thankful in GOD, because no matter what was going on, He is ALWAYS GOOD. HE IS MY SILVER LINING.
After the word was shared and a meal was enjoyed, we all stood around a pretty awesome campfire. It was so tall that it singed the tops of the palm trees!!! The original plan was to roast marshmallows around it, but we couldn't even approach it for a while with the height (and the heat). Something about the warm glow really suited my mood. In the glow of its embers I was able to romanticize my inner angst just a little bit. When it died down (A LOT) we were finally able to get a marshmallow or two going (even though the heat was insane...notwithstanding the campfire was half dead).
I was pretty tired that day, so I decided to leave before the celebration was over. Someone was parked behind me with a really nice shiny new car-blocking me in. When I finally located the driver, she made to give me her keys to move it out for her, but I instinctively declined. Gratefully, someone else stepped in and reversed her lovely car out into the blackness beyond. The street was pretty dark, so I could only see a few feet out at a time and I reversed out the yard. When I finally got out, I paused and then reversed a little more ( with some gusto) to clear the driveway so that the shiny car could make its way back in and then BANG! It sounded like a calamity... Sure enough, I had reversed into a stealthily parked midnight blue car that had been virtually invisible in the darkness. It was parked in front of a neighbour's house.
"This just isn't my night", I thought.
Just as I was wondering whose car it could be (envisioning impassioned conflicts with unsympathetic neighbours) my friends came out and assured me that the car belonged to someone at the thanksgiving. Long story short, the person was super merciful and chill, and didn't make a big deal about me busting his front light. I wept in disbelief.
As I drove home alone that night and the mental fog caused by all the excitement cleared, all I could think was " LORD! THANK YOU THAT YOU WORKED THAT OUT, AND THAT I DIDN'T AGREE TO REVERSE THE SHINY NEW CAR!!!"